Yes, I’m back from my sabbatical and still trying to remember how things are done. I do remember that I make these blog posts every week, though. And so I looked at this upcoming Sunday’s texts and trying to get my brain to work like it did before and figure out what can be said about the themes that are present.
And I admit that I’m having a bit of a hard time with it. It’s like that part of my brain isn’t functioning anymore (some might argue that it never had…), and I have to re-learn how to use that muscle. I guess that isn’t unlike many things in our lives, like with different skills or even talents. Like if you want to be better at sports, you need to practice those sports. If you want to be better at playing music, you need to practice that instrument. If you want to be funnier, you need to practice making faces in the mirror (I hope at least, because then our daughter is going to grow up to be hilarious).
Also, if you want to be better at interpreting the bible, then you need to practice your reading and interpreting. If you want to be better at loving your spouse, family, or friends, then you need to spend more time with them and figure out how to do so. If you want to be more compassionate, you need to practice compassion.
The point is, these things don’t always come automatically. They most certainly aren’t mastered automatically. It takes time, intention, and a willingness to grow even if it means that growth brings pain (I’m thinking about all the nicks and bumps that come along the way). I should note that the mastery of it might never come as well, but we will continue to improve and strengthen and be more than we were before.
Here we get the very familiar parables and stories of something lost but then found, and the repentance that perhaps lead to that being found. Quite often (at least for Jesus’ parables), we equate the “finder” with God and the “findee” with ourselves. But I wonder what happens to the narrative if we equate ourselves with different characters of the stories. Namely, how does the message change if we’re the 99 sheep watching our shepherd abandon us to find the one that left? Or the 9 coins that really can’t do much as inanimate objects but having an owner seemingly disregard our worth to look for a lost one of us (which incidentally has the same exact worth)?
OR, what if we equate ourselves with the finder? That makes the least sense because quite honestly we wouldn’t look for that one sheep or one coin, we’d likely count our losses and be happy with what we still have. But then that raises the question, why not look for them? Why not care enough for the few that we’d drop everything to look? Why not see the value in the one that we hold in the 90-99% of the rest?
And I think that’s the point I’m thinking about this week. That we might not have been exercising this muscle of caring for those that are seemingly insignificant or unworthy of our time and energy. Be it a person, a skill, or even an attitude of life.
The thing is that we are cared for in the totality of who we are. Every aspect of us are highly regarded by God. We are created as we are, with our bumps and scrapes, and loved and cherished dearly. And we are called to look (or at least try to look) at others with the same regard. We are called to live in community with all people whether we like or agree or look like them or not. Simply put, we are called to love.
And love all people.
Have a great week, everyone!